Blergh. Been puttin off a new post because I said I’d write that Redneck Meatball one, but there are most pressing things to discuss. Shall we?
I’ve been putting off a really important conversation with my boss for weeks. I find, a satisfying temporary fix is simply to have the conversation you’d LIKE to have in the car or the shower with just yourself. That way, when you start to choke up or say something you didn’t mean, you have the liberty of self-editing. And, there’s no one there to throw you off your game. This has mostly been a life-long problem for me.
So earlier this week, I’m driving around listening to NPR per usual, and Niel Conan is talking to this author Lynda Barry about handwriting, and how it can help break writer’s block. (Trust me, this will tie in.) They get to the topic of how handwriting can help you emote more so than typing… it can help you be more honest.
It got me thinking about an important conversation I had this summer, with a boy in a booth at a restaurant on a reservation in South Dakota. We had to talk about what would happen if he got a job in New Mexico and how that would affect our relationship. We weren’t more than a few back-and-forths in when I reached for my reporter notebook. Unable to continue talking without driving myself into a full-on crying fit, I dried my swollen eyes, swabbed the snot from my nose and began to write. The result was a patient discourse over the future of well, “us.”
I don’t know how strange he found it, but for me, it was cathartic and frankly, necessary. In order to express how I really felt in a comprehensible way, I had to write it out. Hands and all.
As a kid, I used to leave my mom carefully folded and sealed envelopes on her pillow before bedtime, sometimes hiding them underneath so she wouldn’t find them until the very last moment of the day. There was no way I was going to spark confrontation with my lengthy, emotional pleas about how I wanted things to be different until she’d had a full night to sleep on it.
After finding out that many people advocated “sleeping on it” before making a big decision, I considered myself a sage, a child prodigy even. Soon, I thought, people would be having remarkable, rational conversations about their innermost issues, all over paper. An end to fighting? An end to war even? I saw myself gladly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. “Thank you, yes, it’s always worked for me too.”
Fast forward to 2010, and as a 22 year old woman, I find myself trembling to pick up the phone to even start dialing.
I’ve played the situation out so many times in my head: I get out half of my points, start to cry, say, “I’m not sad… it’s just… how I feel now,” and finish the second half of my points. My boss, surprised by my candor, envisions a beautiful solution, and we hang up affectedly content.
Now, when I try to actually do it, I can’t help fearing that we’ll get on the phone, he’ll sound happy to hear me, I’ll feel bad that I was going to bombard him and instead say I was just checking in and hang up quickly. This, I hate to admit, I have done more than once.
What I’d like to do is write him a letter, drive the hour commute to his office, slide it under his door and scamper away. I think today they call that email. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t really respond to electronic communication, severely crippling my emotional development.
But this week, I reached a point where I realized I needed to talk to him. It’s the same point where you decide to cut off all your hair, get something pierced or get a tattoo (I’m still not there either). I put it off all day, and during the very last hour when I figured he would be around, I sat down with my phone and my computer, typing away to my boyfriend and drafting a series of talking points.
After some heaving counciling, I picked up the phone, swallowed real hard, and dialed. Eyelids clenched, I listened as every ring bounced off my brain, reverberated and left. “Hello you’ve reached the voice mail of…” Shit.
So now he’s going to call me back. I’ll balk, he’ll awkwardly placate me and I’ll still feel like we need to talk. It’s times like these when I feel like a fat 10 year old, gripping a Bic and sitting on my floor in a pile of crumpled up half-notes. I don’t want pity and I don’t want a concession, I just want the people in charge of me to know what the right thing to do is.
Note to self: Consider writing note to self.